NYPD announces task force to prevent officer suicides, June crime stats

HICKSVILLE, Long Island (WABC) -- The NYPD on Monday unveiled crime statistics for June, declaring a new record-breaking low for the first half of any year in the CompStat era, as well as announced a new task force aimed at preventing police officer suicides after the sixth such incident this year.

"If you need help, we're going to help you," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said. "Steve was my friend. I knew Joe. He was a member of the DEA. What's the mood? It's sad...To have this happen to us is just another tragedy, and this is unfortunately a job full of tragedies."

O'Neill was referring to Deputy Chief Steven Silks and Detective Joseph Calabrese , who both died by suicide in early June.

The "Health and Wellness Strategy" will include three hours of suicide prevention training, as well as a buddy/peer panel to be held in September and efforts to combat the stigma associated with mental health.

"This is a hard job," O'Neill said. "You're talking about a livelihood. You know, 'If I step forward, am I going to lose my guns, am I going to lose my shield, am I going to lose my job?'"

The NYPD reported four suicides in June alone, the most recent being an off-duty officer who was found dead on June 26 at his home in Hicksville on Long Island.

"Coming forward when you need help is not going to make you lose your job," Chief of Department Terance Monahan said at the time. "There are things in this agency that we're going to do. We're going to get you the help you need. I guarantee you, you're always going to be back on the street."

O'Neill has declared a mental health crisis in the department amid the recent spate of deaths by suicide, and he sent messages reminding officers of available resources and urging them to seek help.

Police officials say that when a suicide occurs, the department immediately deploys grief counselors, as well as Chaplains Unit and Employee Assistance Unit professionals to provide continuous support.

The NYPD listed the following resources and said officers can call for themselves or make a confidential referral for someone else:

--Employee Assistance Unit: 646.610.6730
--Chaplains Unit: 212.473.2363
--POPPA (independent from the NYPD): 888.267.7267

--NYC WELL: Text, call, & chat nyc.gov/nycwell
--Lifeline: 800.273.TALK (8255)
--Crisis Text Line: Law enforcement officers can text BLUE to 741741 (non-law enforcement can text TALK to 741741)
--Call 911 for emergencies

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text TALK to 741-741 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org - for free confidential emotional support 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Even if it feels like it - you are not alone.

As for crime statistics, the NYPD announced that year-to-date index crime is down by almost 2,500 complaints, a nearly 5.5% decrease.

Murders in the city also fell to a new first half record-low of 135, a 15.5% reduction over 2018 that broke the previous first half record-low of 136, which was set in 2017.

Index crime for June 2019 (8,032) is down by 321 complaints, or 3.8%, compared to June 2018 (8,353). Murder for the month of June 2019 (26) was also down 25.7%, or 9 fewer lives lost, compared to June 2018 (35).

Shooting incidents for June, however, were are up 27.1% and year-to-date shootings are up 7.1%. The department said it is addressing this violence in a number of different ways, including precision policing, Summer All-Out targeted deployments and working with district attorneys on gun prosecutions.

"New York City is the safest big city in America, and it's as safe as it's ever been in modern times," O'Neill said. "But the hardworking members of the NYPD know that to make our achievements meaningful for everyone we have to make this record-breaking safety a reality in every community we serve. We're going to do that by continuing to build strong relationships, by relentlessly pursuing those who commit violent crime, by deploying our resources effectively and by constantly evaluating our performance in an effort to do even better."

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